Mayors: Time to kick the unemployed in the keister

September 24, 2010
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This is going to sound counterintuitive at a time when the state’s unemployment rate is hovering above 10 percent, but the mayors of a couple of small Indiana cities say there are a lot more job openings than one might think. The problem, say Wayne Seybold of Marion and Brad DeReamer of Greenfield, is that too many jobless folks would rather collect unemployment checks than go back to work.

Three Marion companies have called Seybold in the past few months complaining that workers laid off during the recession won’t come back now that business is better; the workers say they won’t return until they’ve used up their allotted 99 weeks of unemployment.

While organizing a job fair a couple of months ago, a Marion pastor found 951 available jobs in Grant County alone, Seybold says. The county typically runs at about 27,000 jobs, suggesting roughly one of every 29 positions is available.

Seybold isn't unsympathetic. People with jobs should remember how hard it can be to go back to work after even a week of vacation, he says.

Still, he adds, “In today’s work force, they’re not prepared to take a job they don’t want to take. We gotta have some tough love.”

DeReamer says Greenfield is struggling to fill a vacancy in the animal management department that involves catching and euthanizing animals and cleaning cages. It isn’t pleasant work, he admits, but do the math. The job pays $576 a week while the maximum unemployment check in Indiana is $390. Subtract the taxes from the job and it doesn’t make a lot of economic sense to set an alarm.

Last month an applicant with a promising resume told the city he applied for the animal management job to stay eligible for unemployment but had no intent of actually accepting.

DeReamer thinks it would be a mistake to extend unemployment benefits again when they expire at the end of November because the bandage has become worse than the wound.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development has logged thousands of complaints on a new Web page where people and businesses can report, shall we say, the labor-averse. When the complaints check out, the department yanks their benefits and collects the overpayments.

The mayors’ experiences are highly anecdotal. (Both are Republicans, by the way.) A good labor economist would come up with a more accurate and nuanced picture.

Caveats aside, what’s your reaction to their point that the unemployed need a kick in the pants?

  • True Avoidance
    As an employer in the southern part of the state, we have seen this multiple times where we offer a job only to have a candidate delcine because they still have unemployment to collect. In one case, we had this happen only to have the applicant come back several weeks later telling us they were ready to work because their unemployment had ended. We politely declined since the position had been filled.
  • Finally
    It's about time someone in a position of authority said this, consequences be damned. There's a big difference between, "There are no jobs" and "There are no jobs that I want to do"
  • ceo
    i have talked to several customers that are in the trucking business and they are finding the same issue many drivers do not want to come back to work until unemployment runs out.
  • Givers and Takers
    I find it interesting that the author took the opportunity to comment on party affiliation. This should not be a partisan issue. Entitlements are going to break this country, that was founded and has succeeded on hard work and initiative. I am all for giving someone a hand-up, not so willing to give a hand-out. Until people get some pride about being self-sufficient and contributing to society, we are all in for a hard road.
  • look at all the issues
    Subtract from that $576 the cost of daycare a person might have to pay if they go back to work. Sometimes the math doesn't work for someone to take a low-paying job, just to "get off their butt and get back to work."
    • Working Mom
      I've always thought that an unemployment check after 6 months should be attached to work provided for the city/state etc. Numerous jobs are never done because of budget cuts...why not make it win-win for both. People are just sitting around, the community reaps the benefits of work being done without having to shell out the funds, and the unemployed still get additional monies.
    • Same problem times 2
      100% accurate. I have 2 businesses witht eh same problem. 1 a turn around where we can't find people and have to work considerable OT. The other a start-up of a year ago and we can't find people to keep up with the growth. For that company its more than an Indiana problem as we hire across the mid-west. Maybe 10% is the new unemployable number not 4-5% as in the past.
    • It's the Culture, Stupid
      It's simple - you get more of what you subsidize
    • Socialism Anyone??
      The extended unemployment benefits are nothing but glorified welfare and we that are working are paying for it.
      My suggestion is VOTE in November!! We MUST put a stop to these socialistic laws!!!
    • Get real
      "Many" drivers; "people"; "multiple times"...I'm wondering if these are just a few bad apples with the stories told over and over again. My friends who are unemployed are looking very hard for work and can't find it in their field of training, for months and months at a time. They don't have the money to retrain to do something else, and they can't drive a truck. Middle-managers, while they still have the hope of getting a job in their field, are not going to take the job cleaning cages, especially if they don't live in that county.

      What there is, is a fundamental mismatch between the skills of the people who have lost their jobs and the jobs that are available. And look at the ages of the people who have lost jobs--do you really expect a 50-year-old accountant to clean animal cages? Get real.
    • Get real?
      If I were a 50-year old accountant who needed money, I would clean cages. Hello, entitlement.
    • One expects a bias
      Making policy based upon anecdotes and argument results in bad policy. I suggest jailing business owners and operators that are tardy in forwarding tax money collected or that don't pay their taxes. Instead the government lets them slide.
    • Still looking to be hired!!!
      The position Mayor DeReamor mentioned I applied for, as well as 2 other positions offered by the city or county offices and I didn't even receive a so sorry letter. I have been unemployed for quite some time and have applied for 600 plus jobs that pay less than my last salary. I've also applied for many jobs that pay less than my unemployment. Of those 600 resumes maybe 12 responded that I wasn't qualified in one way or another. Since I have only applied for positions I am qualified for I would say my past salary history was the problem and they aren't even looking at my resume. Do the mayor's have a response to those of us that made more money than an employer wants to pay and therefore are being overlooked because they are afraid we'll quit later. We just want to work again and have been looking for anything that has a 40 hr work week. It seems the only jobs we are being offered are those that work on a 100% commission only scale and I tried that already. I spent more than I earned.
    • Choosing unemployment
      My moral character was not very well developed when I drew unemployment checks in my mid-twenties. Look for work while I had months of free checks to look forward to? Are you kidding? I thought nothing about saying I was looking for work. The mayors are right. Making excuses to be a deadbeat is easy--and it pays. Go after 'em.
    • nope
      The only thing required to receive unemployment is proof that you are applying to open positions consistently. Until gov't comes up with a way to force people to work - even if they don't like the job - there is not much that can/will be done. We're in America, people. It stinks, but we're gonna have to live with it. Face the facts: there are always those who choose to dupe the system and milk it (and consequently all of us) for all they can.
    • More GOP Deceptions and lies
      Gee, the article spells out what to do with such cases. I am sure potential employers would jump at the chance to report someone not accepting a job. If they don't, it is the employers own fault.
      That said, I suspect these are just The highly anecdotal and hold little, if any fact. It reminds me of Republicans who somehow painted the picture that everyone on welfare drove around in a new Cadilac and went to Vegas to spend thier benefits.
      Of course it is not surprising that both are Republicans, by the way. They were never in favor of the first unemployment check let alone the "99th". It sounds like they would rather have no unemployment benefits so they can surpress the job pay to mere minimum wage before launching on a DO AWAYA WITH MINIMUM PAY campaign.

      A good labor economist would come up with a more accurate and nuanced picture. But since when would a Republican listen to the truth. I would only hope that those who make up such wild stories and imply that everyone who is unemployed is just like them, become unemployed themselves and I bet they will cut in line just to collect the basic pay to keep their families afloat.
    • simple resolution
      Each month begin cutting unemployment by 5% until it drops about 20% for 6 months. We will see people lining up for jobs reeeal fast. And it would still be a survivable amount of money for the people, but dish network may not be happy with how many people would have to drop their subscription. lol.
    • Exactly.
      Excellent point, and one that many of our politicians conveniently leave out of the discussion. Our economic structure in America has evolved into one wherein it is impossible for most middle-class families to have one stay-at-home parent, so childcare is a necessity. How about factoring that into your equation, sirs?
    • Welfare to work
      The extremes of both the abuses and the benefits of welfare are well known. It would be beneficial to all to reinstate a Depression Era system like the WPA or CCC requiring people to work for the benefit of the infrastructure or environment & receive a ââ?¬Å?payââ?¬Â? check rather than a ââ?¬Å?welfareââ?¬Â? check. This will also help the unemployed 18-25 year olds who are no longer drafted and have limited or no skills. Many of our Depression Era ancestors learned skills that helped them through years of education & work in the area of their WPA assignment, a different skill or trade, or moving up into management.
      Programs like WPA/CCC ought to appease both Roosevelt Democrats & Reagan Republicans, & taxpayers who support the welfare system because tax dollars would be paying people to restore & build new public roads and buildings and improve the condition of State parks & public lands. Those who collect money from various taxpayer supported programs can develop a work ethic, learn new skills, and improve their own self-esteem through accomplishment. They will become taxpayers and begin to contribute to the system.
      New jobs as well as more work for current jobs will be created such as health screeners to determine who in the programs are physically capable of working, human resource workers to match people to jobs, auto workers, bus & cab drivers,mechanics, motorcycle and bicycle dealers to provide means of transportation, lunch truck operators, wait staff, restaurant cooks & dishwashers to provide meals, tavern owners and staff to provide ââ?¬Å?happy hoursââ?¬Â?, manufacture & maintenance of work clothing and many more ways using State income for a WPA- CCC-type program.
    • In addition
      Not mentioned is that many of the "unemployed" are doing some work off the books for cash. Added to the unemployment benefits, the cash earnings provide even more incentive to stay "unemployed" as long as possible.
    • Problem is...
      Problem is that some just don't like the work that they can get, others (like myself last year) who were turned down for every position one was qualified for due to management expecting Doctorate knowledge and entry (Bachelors or Associates) level pay.

      I was not trying to leach off the system, and if it were up to me, I would not have been laid off in the first place.

      I haven't closed my eyes to the world, and I have seen that some people are dumping on Obama, saying that he needs to provide new jobs, while they are still milking the unemployment checks and not really applying themselves for any real jobs. I wasn't one of these fools, but there are people out there who are doing it.

      I had a plan that if I did not find a job by 12 months of the day I was laid off, I would of moved back in with family and start working in retail again, even though I was well overqualified. Fortunately, I found a job within 8 months to the date of layoff. I went $10,000 in debt to obtain some extra skills when I found the job but I finally got a job almost a year ago and continued the extra education. I am tired of the leaches on our system and the people whom are apatetic over those who are actually trying and putting effort time and time again and not obtaining a job.
    • Unemployed and looking
      I am dismayed by many of the comments posted. Many of the statements are ignorant of the current job market. Either these people are not unemployed and looking for work or they choose not to be informed.

      The bottom line is it's an employer's market right now due to the large number of unemployed. And the system for looking for work is broken. In my experience, 95% of the work search is done online. Candidates are selected by automated processes. That makes the likelyhood of actually securing an interview with 'a hiring person' very slim. This is the 2nd layoff for me in 6 years. The last temp job, I accepted a 30% pay cut. I felt lucky to have the job. Those of you who say I don't want to work need a good dose of reality and a spirit of compassion and support instead of a critical tongue. Possibly a good kick in the pants and a wop upside the head would snap you out of it as well.
    • agree
      I agree with you, Unemployed. Some of the comments are partial informed or uninformed and need to be woken up to reality.
    • Just bad apples?
      I am very disappointed at just how one sided this article was to begin with. It is not the level of quality that I expect from the IBJ.
      For those of you who think all unemployed people are pond scum, walk a mile in our shoes before you judge us. Yes, there are people that will take advantage of any situation, but when you go searching for bad apples, you don�t pay much attention to the good ones. I personally know over 100 people here in central Indiana that would love to start working again - tomorrow, if not sooner. But job hunting is never easy, these days it is even harder.
      To begin with, there are a lot more people looking than ever before, and many are more than willing to relocate. Some postings are pulled after three days and even then the company can have as many as two thousand applicants. Your chances of even getting an interview out of that are very slim even if you are a perfect match that lives across the street. As people have seen in the past, employers are reluctant to offer a position to someone who is over qualified or more qualified for other professions. Today many employers are holding out for absolutely perfect matches and will even hold off filling a position for months while they continue the search. I have personally seen where they are looking for five years of experience in something that hasn�t even been available for two.
      I hate having to draw unemployment. Yes I am taking it, but I would much rather be working for a living. That is the way I was raised. Some job opportunities would wind up costing a person more than what they would make when you calculate the extra costs of child care and transportation.
      I am sorry that Seybold, DeReamer and the communities they serve are having so much trouble filling positions. If an unemployed individual is offered any position and they turn it down, they should lose their unemployment and it needs to reported ââ?¬â?? perhaps these mayors donââ?¬â?¢t know how. Just as some people donââ?¬â?¢t want to go back to work, there are just some jobs that very few people want and therefore are difficult to fill at any price. DeReamer says to do the math, but he did not take into consideration all of the variables involved in the story problem. After taxes, transportation and other expenses, the job just isnââ?¬â?¢t worth it.
      It�s good that the DWD has a web site to complain about the unemployed, but where do we complain about the companies that are being too darn picky or the politicians that are making things tougher for both the employers (that are afraid to hire) and the unemployed?
      • Not an article

        This is not an article. It is a blog. Blog entries aren't intended to be well-balanced, thorough pieces of journalism. They are written to bring up a topic or issue that readers can respond to. Hopefully, readers will reply with posts from both sides of the issue. That's where the balance comes in. Thank you for reading.
      • response to Mederator
        This may indeed be a blog, but it is still representative of the IBJ and created by an employee (Norm) of the IBJ. It is an attack on a group of people based on a low percentage of the group. Of course the comments from the two mayors do not reflect well for them either. Norm�s comment about the two mayors being republicans also indicates that he is biased against another segment of our country. The counterpoint to the party affiliation is that, if the mayors were democrats, they wouldn�t complain at all; they would just hire illegal aliens because they were jobs nobody else wanted�..

        The Marion pastor may have found 951 job postings for Grant County, but the state�s latest Labor Force Estimates for Grant County shows that there were 3,794 unemployed out of a labor force of 32,531. If you take into account the turnover in job openings as well as who is unemployed, those numbers suggest that about 25% of the unemployed could even be hired and don�t forget, they still have to be qualified to do the work. In August, there were 311,267 unemployed individuals in the state. That is 9.9% of the workforce. This is an improvement over July�s numbers as well as August �09, so people are accepting positions.

        Employers, please remember, just because there are a lot of unemployed individuals out there, it does not mean that you will find a perfect match for your job opening. Unfortunately, you are also being bombarded with more resumes than you have time to read, so even if the perfect (or near perfect) person submits their application, you may never see it.

        It is a two way street with problems traveling in both directions. We all need to remain courteous to each other, and report those who are not.
      • high correlation
        I can assure you that there is a high correlation between running out of benefits and getting a job. The same people that post "how dare you" messages will spend remarkable energy to not have to work. I just cringe(d) each time the federal gov't adds another pile of money to extended unemployment benefits. It's the most outrageous form of gov't handouts and does nothing to spur the economy. People will argue that that money gets spent right away since it goes to pay rent, food, etc. but it also pays people to stay away from getting a new job which takes money out of gov't coffers because there is no FUTA or SUTA coming in from an employer. At the very least, people drawing unemployment benefits should be required to do something to add value to the economy besides applying for work twice a week. This has proved out over decades not to be effective. Perhaps a requirement that they must teach someone else to read (or maybe even themself) or some other volunteer task will keep them focused on being a productive member of society.

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